Thursday, June 14, 2001

Next Taft principal has Bell as high-tech partner

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Not yet at the helm, future Robert A. Taft High School principal Anthony Smith already is spurring change.

        Mr. Smith, former principal of Lafayette Bloom Back On Track Accelerated Middle School in the West End and a 1973 Taft graduate, caught the eyes of Cincinnati Bell officials and paved the way for a revolutionary partnership between the company and Cincinnati Public Schools.

        He's seen as a leader who can transform Taft High - a West End school plagued by a high dropout rate - into an information technology institute.

        “As a result of talking to Anthony, we believed he has the passion and the desire to make a difference,” said Jack Cassidy, Bell's president and chief operating officer. “And we decided to throw in our sweat equity with him.”

        Mr. Cassidy on Wednesday announced details of the school/business partnership. Thanks to Bell, students beginning this fall will benefit from:

        • Internship and permanent job positions at Bell and other companies.

        • A chance for one of 10 post-secondary scholarships.

        • A school equipped with modern wireless capability.

        Taft is one of the first schools to undergo a restructuring that will soon be a reality for all five of the district's neighborhood high schools.

        Mr. Cassidy cited Mr. Smith's accomplishments leading Bloom since 1998.

        “It's personal to him, not just a job,” Mr. Cassidy said.

        Under Mr. Smith, Bloom offered an accelerated program for seventh- and eighth-graders who had fallen behind. Students who participate can make up two years of work in one.


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